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Codependency: An Unexpected Addiction

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Getting help for your codependency can revolutionize the way you live your life, see yourself and approach situations. Get the help you need today.

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By DeAnna Jordan
 
Codependency is an extremely common behavioral pattern in alcoholics and addicts. Nearly all those who suffer from alcoholism and addiction also suffer from a manifestation of codependency. 
 
Codependency is commonly misunderstood; most believe that codependency is isolated to the female gender and that codependency is merely an obsessive girlfriend stealing her boyfriend’s phone to check his messages. This description is unilateral and neglects a wide variety of codependency manifestations. People pleasing, manipulation, narcissism, controlling, drama instigator, stalking and the doormat syndrome are all common expressions of codependency. 
 
Codependency, as with addiction and alcoholism, centers in the mind, which is why alcoholics and addicts frequently struggle with codependency, if not with people, then certainly with the bottle or their drug of choice. 
 

What Is Codependency? 

My favorite definition of a codependent comes from Codependency for Dummies and is as follows: “Someone who can’t function from his or her innate self and instead organizes thinking and behavior around a substance, process or other person(s) … ”
 
Addiction and alcoholism are fueled by an obsession with alcohol or any other mind-altering substance. Obtaining this substance is the primary purpose of every active alcoholic or addict. The individual centers their day, week, or weekend on consumption of that substance. In essence, addiction and alcoholism are codependency. 
 
An individual can exemplify codependency on a substance, a partner, a friendship, their parents, a sibling, a pet and so on. The relationship becomes codependent when the needs, well-being and functionality of one’s self is less important than the needs, well-being and functionality of another. 
 

How Do I Know If I’m Codependent? 

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The general public has the idea that codependency is an obsessed girlfriend who needs to know their partner’s every move. An obsessive and compulsive girlfriend is the most identifiable codependency sufferer because her actions are obvious and overwhelming. 
 
Codependency has a myriad of outlets — most likely outlets that we have yet to discover. There are, however, common signs of codependency that outline patterns and characteristics of codependency that may help an individual connect with their suffering. 
 
Denial Patterns
  • They struggle to identify their feelings.
  • They neglect, change or suppress their feelings. 
  • They lack the ability to empathize with the needs or feelings of others.
  • They deny help from others because they can take care of themselves.
  • They hide pain with humor, isolation or rage.
  • They exemplify passive aggressiveness.
  • They ignore the unavailability of those they desire.
Low Self-esteem Patterns
  • They struggle to make decisions.
  • They judge their own behaviors, words or thoughts harshly.
  • They find embarrassment in receiving acknowledgement or gifts of praise.
  • They find other’s judgments superior to their own.
  • They believe they are unlovable or not worthwhile.
  • They seek praise to feel better.
  • They struggle to admit making mistakes.
  • They find the need to lie to maintain appearances.
  • They believe they are better than others.
  • They struggle to set boundaries or determine priorities.
Compliance Patterns
  • They are too loyal, often staying in situations for far too long.
  • They alter their values and beliefs to avoid the rejection of others.
  • They neglect their own interests in order to please others.
  • They often take on the emotions of others.
  • They are timid to express differing opinions, beliefs or thoughts.
  • They use sexual attention in place of love.
Control Patterns 
  • They often believe that some people cannot take care of themselves.
  • They try to convince others what they should do, feel or think.
  • They offer advice without being asked.
  • They offer gifts and favors on those they want to influence.
  • They have to feel needed in relationships.
  • They use blame and shame to hurt others.
  • They use manipulation to achieve the outcome they desire.
These patterns and characteristics were extracted from the Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) website and are used to determine whether someone qualifies for CoDA. If you can identify with one or two from each section, then you likely suffer from the grips of codependency. 
 

Going Forward

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There are great and helpful resources that address codependency. Codependency is not something about which to be ashamed; it is a common struggle. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing openly your bout with codependency, there are great online resources that can provide you some assistance. 
 
Books on Codependency
Therapy Options
Therapy is always a good idea, despite the problem with which you are faced. Therapy provides you with a safe environment during which you can discuss in a private environment with a licensed professional what is troubling you. Codependency therapy will teach you easily applicable solutions for your day-to-day life. 
 
Support Groups 
There are plenty of support groups out there for individuals who suffer from codependency. CoDA helps any individual break the painful behavioral habits of codependency through a 12-step process. 
 
Al-Anon is another popular support group catered to the loved ones of alcoholics and addicts. As codependency is extremely common in the families dealing with an active alcoholic and addict, Al-Anon can help immensely with the rampant emotions that come with addiction. 
 
Getting help for your codependency can revolutionize the way you live your life, see yourself and approach situations. Get the help you need today.
 
DeAnna Jordan, clinical director at New Method Wellness, has more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, ranging from celebrities to CEOs and everything in between, in their recovery and building of healthy relationships. As a result of her expertise, she has been featured on Dr. PhilJane Valdez-Mitchell and National Geographic’s Taboo and has been published in Elle magazine as well as the Huffington Post.
 
 
 
 
 

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